Halloween is just around the corner, which for some brings memories of dress-up parades, costume competitions, and classroom parties. As with each of our school traditions, however, it’s valuable to revisit our practices to ensure that they are both equitable and inclusive.
Our personal experiences may or may not reflect the values and realities of our students. WRDSB Equity and Inclusion Officer Deepa Ahluwalia reminds us that “not all families will celebrate and participate in Halloween, for many reasons including cultural, religious, socioeconomic and personal reasons.”
As public educators, we have a responsibility to ensure that we plan activities that feel inclusive of all our students. In doing so, consider the following recommendations:
- Plan activities that allow for and value multiple options for participation (i.e. wearing orange and black or Autumn colours, other themes beyond ghouls and ghosts) but do not require students to be segregated from their peers.
- Avoid competitions that privilege those of greater economic means and disadvantaged families who may not have the resources to dress their children in costumes.
- Communicate expectations that costumes should be respectful of others. Deepa Ahluwalia adds “if something is representative of a person’s culture or religious beliefs, then it should not be worn as another person’s costume.”
- Honour families and children who may choose not to participate in certain activities by clearly communicating your plans and limiting the time devoted to Halloween specific tasks. Build in equally valued alternatives (ex. relating to careers, book characters, etc.).
Reviewing our practices through an equity lens doesn’t devalue our personal beliefs or past traditions but rather seeks to acknowledge a range of experiences. By doing so, our lessons and planned activities evolve to include perspectives we may not have previously considered. ETFO is an equity-seeking organization and it’s through this type of reflection that we can promote diversity and foster respect not just at Halloween, but all year long.